Nosey Parker: I Want to Be Bad (1985)

Dave spotlights the fifth and final collaboration between Gary Graver and Kay Parker.

Born in Birmingham, U.K. in 1944 and heading to the U.S. at the age of twenty-one, the inimitable Kay Parker was introduced to the world of XXX features via her relationship with porn icon John Leslie.

“I knew that when he asked me to be in a film with him that it was probably a porno,” Parker remarked during the rerelease of Kirdy Stevens’ groundbreaking Taboo (1978).

Although the incest-fest was her debut in terms of actual on-screen sex, Parker’s first time in front of a camera was a couple of months earlier, in Gary Graver’s V: The Hot One (1978). Four more pictures followed with the director: Satisfactions (1983), Private Teacher (1983), Sex Play (1984), and, finally, I WANT TO BE BAD. By 1985, though, Parker was beginning the process of bringing her award-winning adult film career to a close.

“There were primarily two reasons,” told journalist Peter Molloy. “One was AIDS – [it] became a big factor. The other obvious thing was, by that point, video was a big reality. That meant low, low budgets, and it’s very difficult making the transition. I did one or two videos and said, ‘That’s it, I can’t do this anymore.’” [1]

Despite video gathering momentum, Graver, producer Sidney Niekerk, and Niekerk’s company, CalVista, were still resolutely committed to 35mm. I Want to Be Bad certainly isn’t their most memorable feature; but as a deliciously debased distraction it’s very recommendable. And as a swansong for Parker’s work with Graver, it highlights her dexterity both as an actress and as a performer.

Parker is Jan Jenson: the long-suffering wife of Charlie (John Martin), about whom she has suspicions of infidelity. She’s right too. For not only is Charlie banging his secretary (an unfulfilled Laurie Smith –“Oh Charlie, you didn’t make me cum”), but, on a trip to Jan’s parents, he ends up in bed with her stepmother (Tara Aire) before discovering his father-in-law beating off over them in a shadowy corner of the room. When Fred Appleby (Paul Thomas) turns up at Jan’s house complaining that a broken VCR has prevented him from watching “the hottest new video on the market”, this strapping acquaintance commandeers her tape player, and heads to the spare room to pump his fist over some grot. Naturally, Jan is quickly compelled to join him and by doing so opens the floodgates to a world of sensual fortitude.

“I was as clean as Caesar’s wife,” exclaims Jan in one sequence and it’s Parker’s depiction of her transformation from prim and proper housewife to seductive MILF that’s the draw of the movie. Julies Medford’s script has a handful of nice moments (including some unexpected Dorothy Parker wordplay), but the narrative stutters during the sex scenes with the supporting cast, somewhat derailing Jan’s compelling arc.

Shot in late 1984, I Want to Be Bad made the usual cross-country trek around the smut-houses of America, playing the San Bernardino Pussycat and the Covell in Modesto. More interestingly, in January ’85, it opened at the Art Cinema on Franklin Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut a venue that, today, stands as one of the last fully functional Art Deco adult theatres in the States.

USA ● 1985 ● Adult ● 83mins

Kay Parker, John Martin, Paul Thomas, Tara Aire, Laurie Smith, Marc Wallace ● Dir. Gary Graver (as ‘Robert McCallum’) ● Wri. Julies Medford

[1] Taboo: The Life of a Real-Life Porn Star by Peter Molloy, University Observer, May 2009.

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